Political leaders decided to proceed with plans for a multi-storey car park in Berkhamsted last night – despite fears that it could lead to higher pollution levels.
Dacorum Borough Council’s cabinet panel heard that nitrogen dioxide levels in Lower Kings Road, where it would be built, are already above average for the area.
Transition Town Berkhamsted member Danny Bonnett said that the project would encourage people to use their cars more rather than walking or using public transport.
He added that the public should be consulted more widely about how they would like to see the area – and the town – developed.
But Berkhamsted town councillor David Collins said that much of the pollution is caused by drivers spending longer in their cars trying to find a parking space.
The new multi-storey would mean drivers spend less time driving between often full car parks, he said.
He said parking had been an unsolvable problem in Berkhamsted for 12 to 15 years.
Dacorum Borough Council leader Andrew Williams said: “People are not going to leave their cars at home and go shopping on a bus or bike.
“Our towns would die without adequate car parking.”
The meeting heard that the new multi-storey would have between 225 and 275 spaces.
It would take the council about 20 years to get a return on the amount it invests in what it gains from multi-storey parking charges, cabinet members were told.
The councillors said plans for the project should proceed alongside plans to encourage the public to walk and use public transport more often.